This review will take a look at the YA nonfiction title Theodosia Burr: Teen Eyewitness to the Founding of the New Nation by Karen Cherro Quinones. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released today, February 4th.
Theodosia Burr was the daughter of Aaron Burr, who served as Vice President to Thomas Jefferson. Many readers out there will have more knowledge of Aaron Burr because of his feud (and duel) with Alexander Hamilton that was a plot point in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s famed musical Hamilton.
I found it important that this book acknowledged the lack of information remaining surrounding the life of Theodosia, and other women during this age. Though I understand this, and that the lack of information makes it difficult to write authoritatively on the subject, I had a difficult time digesting this book as a biography of Theodosia. It is a short book, only just over 100 pages, and the author spent much of that time building up to the child’s birth. Because of this it seems much more a biography of Aaron Burr to me, focusing on his relationship with his daughter, which was unorthodox at the time.
The author also makes it clear that Aaron Burr had very different ideas than general society about educating women at the time. Theodosia was extremely well educated, like her mother, and received the same tutoring a boy her age would have had.
What was emphasized throughout the book was how exceptional Theodosia was. Caring for her ailing mother, while pursuing studies. Taking charge of a household at a very young age, hosting parties for politicians, the list can go on and on.
This book just skims the surface of Theodosia through research of the letters between her and her family, though many of the family papers were lost at sea, along with her. While reading, I found myself wishing for more information leading up to her marriage, the birth of her child, and her death. These seemed glossed over in comparison with her unique childhood. I think this book is a good starting block for a pre-teen looking to learn about strong women during colonial times, but not for anything looking to go more in depth.
Happy reading 🙂